Mention “martial arts” and “bullying” in the same sentence typically calls to mind The Karate Kid. Many parents and bullying victims make a natural connection between the combat tactics taught in martial arts and “fighting back” against bullies. But to view martial arts that way doesn’t do it nearly enough justice.
Martial arts can teach self defense, yes, but violence is the last thing it would ever promote. The sport instills physical strength, but also a multitude of psychological and emotional benefits that can help a child conquer bullying in a far more meaningful and permanent way than simply “an eye for an eye.”
Let’s have a look at some of the ways martial arts can change a bullying victim’s life for the better.
Bullies don’t target confident kids
As inspiring as The Karate Kid was, that movie is almost 30 years old. The bullying landscape is not nearly as simple as it was back then. A bully is no longer just a physical threat.
We live in the era of cyber bullying, in which vulnerable, insecure or different kids are targeted and ostracized not just in tangible places like schools or summer camps, but also online. More bullying happens on Facebook walls than in playgrounds.
That means bullies are victimized on a deeper psychological level, reading and hearing words that make them feel like they don’t belong, like they’re worthless because they’re different. Thankfully, martial arts equips students with the mental and emotional strength to deal with bullying.
Whether it’s Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Judo, a martial art pushes a student to his her physical limit and gives him or her a sense of accomplishment. That in turn builds confidence, which is a crucial component in confronting bullies.
Studies prove time and again that bullies prey on the weak. Retreating from bullies shows weakness and lets them know they can walk all over you. Martial arts teaches a student focus, discipline and responsibility – including the responsibility to take better care of one’s self by confronting a bully verbally. It sounds scary, but bullies are less likely to continue victimizing people when asked directly why they’re doing what they do. Holding a mirror to them often makes them back down.
A sense of belonging
Bullies target lone wolves
Bullies love easy targets, and there’s no easier target than the lone wolf, whether it’s a new student who hasn’t made any friends yet or a quirky personality who marches to the beat of his or her own drum. A martial arts gym or dojo is an inclusive environment that teaches tolerance and breeds friendships among students as they push each other to succeed. When you can turn to a group of peers who has your back, you’re far less likely to be a bullying target.
Even if your fellow martial art students aren’t with you when a bully strikes, just knowing they’re waiting for you, ready to support you and have fun with you, creates that crucial confidence needed to stand up to a bully.
Bullies intimidate via physicality
OK, so the Karate Kid isn’t totally outdated. Certain bullies still do get violent and martial arts certainly teaches kids how to defend themselves.
Note the operative word here is defend, not attack. Martial arts focuses on disarming or subduing bullies without physically harming them. Judo, for example, teaches a variety of throws and submissions designed to keep an attacker at bay without inflicting major damage.
A bullying victim can feel hopeless, but martial arts show that it’s never too late to conquer a bad situation. The discipline works. Want proof? Look no further than UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
Why did the champ take up martial arts as a kid? Because he was being bullied, of course.
About Budokai Judo Club
Budokai judo club is based in Toronto and was founded by Sensei’s Rick Koglin and Ray Litvak, (Certified Judo black belts and instructors). The goal of the club is to imbue its students (men, women, children) with the character, confidence and courage that practicing judo over time instills in its students.
The club can be found in Toronto at 1110-5 Finch Ave. West, North York, Ontario M3J 2T2 and is located in the North York Aikido Club/Aikido Hokuryukai. For more information, please contact Rick Koglin at (416) 712-6751.
Budokai Judo Club is the Greater Toronto Area’s (GTA) answer to professional judo instruction (recreational, fitness and competitive) for people of all ages.
Budokai Judo Club: Providing judo lessons for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) including Toronto, North York, Downsview, Vaughan, Thornhill, Richmond Hill, Woodbridge and York Region, Ontario.